He would have been 90 years old on May 29th -- Benny Goodman, one of the most versatile clarinetists of all time. He went down in history as King of Swing, his big band performed at Carnegie Hall where otherwise only the classical greats were allowed, and he was also respected among his colleagues in the field of classical music. Not only did Benny Goodman record a clarinet concerto by Mozart with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he was also a highly-demanded chamber musician, and -- furthermore -- he significantly enhanced the concert repertory of the 20th century by commissioning new works. Composers like Bela Bartok, Paul Hindemith, and Igor Stravinsky wrote pieces for Benny Goodman, who not only bridged a gap between classical music and jazz, but was also the first white band leader who hired black musicians in the racially segregated America of the 1930s. Georg Hirsch has talked with former colleagues of Benny Goodman's and dug out old interviews with the King of Swing.
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